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Obituary for Roy Brubaker

Posted 6/20/2017 11:48am by Village Acres CSA.

Roy Lester Brubaker, 75, of Mifflintown, died June 16 in a farming related accident at his family's farm in Cuba Mills, cutting short a life of love and service. He was born on August 22, 1941 in McAlisterville. Son of an early organic farming innovator, Roy spent his childhood establishing deep affections for and commitment to the earth and its inhabitants. An educator, missionary, pastor, and organic farmer, himself, Roy was one of eight children born into the family of Roy M and Elva Brubaker (Auker) of McAlisterville. Roy is survived by his wife, Hope (Anita) Brubaker (Beidler); daughter, Angela Brubaker; son, Roy Dale Brubaker and spouse, Julie Hurst with granddaughters, Frances and Riley; daughter, Phoebe Brubaker; and daughter, Debra Brubaker and spouse, Hannah Smith-Brubaker, with grandchildren, Chandler and Owen. He is also survived by sisters Doris Martin; Naomi Brubaker; Thelma Diem with spouse, Merle; and Arlene Gehman; as well as brother, Dale Brubaker and spouse, Pat. Roy was preceded in death by sisters Miriam Kauffman and Anna Brubaker.

Roy developed a wide range of practical skills and a lifelong love of learning, laughter, and community-building through the joint influences of his family and the friends and fellowship that surrounded him as a young boy growing up in Juniata County. Roy’s parents were members of Lost Creek Mennonite church and Roy and Hope were most recently members of University Mennonite in State College, where they have many loving friends.

In 1959, at the age of eighteen, Roy left the farm to become a teacher in a one room Mennonite School in Adams County. From 1962-1965, he taught Grade 6 at the larger Paradise Mennonite School in Hagerstown, MD. It was there that he met his close life-long friend and confidant, Luke Beidler. It was through his friendship with Luke that Roy met his wife, and Luke's sister, Hope. Roy and Hope were married on September 10, 1966. Roy completed his Bachelor of Arts in Education at Eastern Mennonite College (now Eastern Mennonite University) in Harrisonburg, VA in 1967.

In June of 1967 the newly married couple accepted a missionary assignment to Somalia with the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities. Roy and Hope served as educators and community builders in Somalia until 1974. In that year, with the assistance of Roy’s sister Naomi, the family established the beginnings of Village Acres Farm, in Cuba Mills. In 1976, Roy and Hope returned to East Africa to serve another five year term in Nairobi, Kenya. In Kenya, their work centered on building inter-faith relationships between Muslims and Christians in one of Nairobi's poorest communities and a home to many Somali immigrants. Roy and Hope were blessed to bring four children into the world while on mission in Africa, the oldest two of whom will be forever shaped by the experience of coming of age in Africa.

In 1982, Roy and Hope returned to Pennsylvania to continue to grow their organic vegetable and berry farm. Roy also accepted a pastoral assignment at Lost Creek Mennonite Church where he served as minister from 1983-1993. Roy also served as the school administrator at what would become Juniata Mennonite (formerly Delaware Mennonite) from 1985-1991, guiding the school in curriculum development, expanding its student base, and overseeing the building of a new school.

From 1993 to the present, Roy's considerable energy was poured into Village Acres Farm. Beyond providing a place of sanctuary and learning for his own children, the farm has provided an educational work environment for aspiring young farmers who continued to find Roy a committed mentor and friend long after they left the farm, many of whom have gone on to farm for themselves. Roy was heavily involved in the formation of the Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative (TOG), as well as one of the nation’s first organic certification organizations, Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO). And he was an early member and supporter of the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) where, over the years, he has celebrated rich and enduring friendships in the sustainable agriculture community. In response to Roy’s passing, a younger farmer in the PASA community offered, “Roy’s love and work runs through the veins of this entire farming community.”

Through the years, Roy and Hope have been recognized with numerous awards for leadership and service in the areas of agricultural innovation and conservation by these and other organizations, including being early cooperators with the Juniata County Conservation District. In 1998, daughter Angela established the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program which diversified the farm in a manner that supported the its long-term viability. In 2012, the farm began its transition to Roy’s daughter, Debra, and her family, where the traditions of sustainable agriculture will live on.

Roy and Hope had only recently begun investing more time in planning for their own retirement, a primary goal of which was to catch up on the many friendships they had established over their many years of service. Following their 50th anniversary, Roy and Hope traveled abroad to visit dear friends internationally and also began spending more time visiting with family.

Memorial Services for Roy will be held on Saturday, June 24 from 10-11:30 at Cedar Grove Brethren in Christ Church in Mifflintown, located just off the Port Royal Exit of US 322. The family will also be available for visiting at the church on both Friday night from 6-8pm and Saturday morning from 9-10.

Please also join the family later in the day, on Saturday, for a self-guided tour of the farm, reflecting on Roy's life and accomplishments in the place that he loved. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to Mennonite Central Committee’s Syrian Iraq Crisis Response mission or to the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, in Roy’s name. The family is also able to direct memorial gifts for those who wish to make a contribution at the service or the farm.

The earth is a better place and we are better people for Roy’s love and stewardship.